Omar Ibn Said



Omar Ibn Said


Surat Al-Mulk from the Qur’an copied by Omar ibn Said

Omar Ibn Said (Umar ibn Said)

“Omar Ibn Said (1770-1864), a slave and Arabic scholar, was born in Futa Toro (now a part of the Republic of Senegal) of an aristocratic Moslem family. Educated in Koranic schools, he was a teacher and tradesman for about fifteen years and purportedly made a pilgrimage to Mecca during the period 1790-1805. In 1807 he was found guilty of an unspecified crime and sold by his people, the Fulas, to an American slave trader. Taken to Charleston, S.C., Omar was among the last Africans to reach the United States prior to the outlawing of the overseas slave trade at the end of 1807. After working for two years as a slave in Charleston and on a South Carolina rice plantation, he escaped in 1810 and made his way to Fayetteville, N.C.,but was recaptured. When efforts to find his legal owner proved unavailing, he became the property of General James Owen of Bladen County. At Owen’s Cape Fear River estate called Milton, Omar was taught English and converted to the Christian religion, joining the First Presbyterian Church in Fayetteville in 1820…” ( Documenting the American South: Primary Resources for the Study of Southern History, Literature and Culture). Said wrote about his life in Arabic. The translation is available in English.

In 2017 the Library of Congress purchased Omar Ibn Said collection from Derek Beard.


Austin, Allan. African Muslims in Antebellum America.  New York: Garland, 1984

Diouf, Sylviane. Servants of Allah : African Muslims Enslaved in the Americas. New York: University Press, 1998.

Handwriting on the Wall: The Case of Omar ibn Said. CuNN ClemsonNewsNow  Youtube,  Oct 4, 2014. Accessed 11/27/2006.

Omar Ibn Said. b. 1770? . Documenting the American South: Primary Resources for the Study of Southern History, Literature and Culture) University Library, The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, 2004. Accessed 11/23/2016.

Omar Ibn Said Collection.  Library of Congress, African and Middle East Division. Accessed 12/1/2019.

 Omar Ibn Said. University of Wisconsin, Press, 2011.

Said, Omar. “O Ye Americans: The Autobiography of Omar Ibn Said.” National Humanities Center, 1831.

Contributed by: Africa Access

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